Fed up with years of pollution from a nearby factory, Rawang residents start a petition, DoE finally acts
RAWANG, May 19 — Batu 15 in Rawang is a vibrant residential and commercial area, but for the past few years now, residents of Taman Setia Jaya and Legendview Condominium have been concerned about the regular columns of white smoke emitted from a particular factory nearby.
Their concern grew after more residents started coughing and getting sore throats frequently, and these common symptoms did not indicate Covid-19.
Rawang resident Lam Choong Wah (right) coordinated a Batu 15, Taman Setia Jaya petition against air pollution from the adjacent factories. May 20, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara
“For years, we have been suffering from continuous coughing, sore throats, and our cars and house compounds have been covered in dust,” resident Lam Choong Wah told Malay Mail earlier this month.
“They are still discharging a lot of dirty air into the atmosphere at midnight, so that's why we are quite frustrated about it.
“This is not an ad-hoc issue, this is a continuous issue,” he said.
Lam said he first filed two complaints to the Department of Environment (DoE) two years ago in May and August, then to the Selayang Municipal Council in November that same year, and to the Public Complaints Bureau in July 2022.
Despite the complaints, the pollution continued.
The 44-year-old then decided to start a petition against air pollution in November 2022, which collected a total of 176 signatures from residents as well as business owners and workers from the shoplots in Batu 15 and the neighbouring areas.
This petition was submitted to the DoE and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change.
It was even taken up in Parliament by the area’s MP for Selayang, William Leong, earlier this year.
Legendview condo management secretary Syee Chong Wah shows how close his block is to the adjacent factory in Rawang, Selangor. May 20, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara
But months passed and the residents and workers in Batu 15 received no clear improvements to their complaints, prompting Lam as the coordinator of the petition to write an open letter to conglomerate Sunway Group as the parent company of the asphalt producing factory they believed to be polluting their air, Blacktop Industries Sdn Bhd.
Lam told Malay Mail he had met Leong twice in March and Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad once the same month.
Earlier this week, the DoE released a media statement saying that it had looked into the residents’ complaints on April 27 last year and found that the factory had not reported a leak in its Industrial Air Pollution Control System (IPCS).
The environmental regulator said it ordered the factory in March to use dry raw materials in the manufacturing process to avoid the emission of thick white smoke, to wet the roads surrounding its premises with a water sprinkler to reduce fugitive dust, to upgrade its IPCS, and to monitor the system regularly.
The DoE conducted another follow-up inspection last week and has given the factory until the end of this month to fix the faulty parts.
“The results of the inspection on May 10, 2023 found that the 'damper' on the IPCS (venturi scrubber) for fume control purposes is still being improved and is expected to be completed before May 31, 2023,” the DoE said in a statement released on May 15.
A venturi scrubber is an air pollution control equipment which uses liquid to remove dust particles from a dust-laden gas stream.
A view of Batu 15, Rawang near the Latar Expressway in Selangor where the residential and commercial areas are adjacent to the industrial area. May 20, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Malay Mail also contacted the factory for comment.
“We did engage an external consultant to carry out stack emission monitoring and the results were within permissible limit. The reports were also submitted to the DoE as required,” Blacktop Industries said in an emailed statement to Malay Mail yesterday.
The company said the leak mentioned in the DoE report referred to the emission from a worn-off chimney, which it has since replaced.
Malay Mail visited the area in the evening earlier this week and did not see any thick white smoke emitted from the factory.